As a new parent, I sure am learning a lot. That includes getting up-to-date on all the logistics of traveling with a baby, even if we haven’t actually taken Miles on a major trip yet (worry not, it’ll happen soon!).
I recently wrote about our experience getting a passport for our baby, so in this post I wanted to discuss the next thing on our “to do” list when it comes to travel — how do TSA PreCheck and Global Entry work when traveling with your little one?
Trusted Traveler Programs for children & babies
As any frequent traveler in the United States can attest, there are certain programs that make the travel process easier. These are known as Trusted Traveler Programs (TTP), and include TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, and NEXUS. For those not familiar with these programs:
- TSA PreCheck offers expedited security screening at US airports, whereby you get access to dedicated lanes, and don’t have to take off your shoes, remove your laptop, or go through the full body scanner
- Global Entry offers expedited immigration into the United States when arriving from abroad at designated ports by air, land, or sea
- NEXUS offers expedited immigration into the United States and Canada when arriving from abroad at designated ports by air, land, or sea
All of these programs require enrollment, and then your membership is valid for five years (if you enroll in Global Entry or NEXUS, TSA PreCheck is automatically included). What happens when you’re traveling with a child, though? Do they need their own membership, or is traveling with a parent that’s a member enough? Let’s look at the details by program.
Do children & babies need TSA PreCheck?
TSA PreCheck is the most generous program in this regard. Children age 12 or younger can use TSA PreCheck lanes when traveling with a parent or guardian who has TSA PreCheck on their itinerary. So there’s no need to actually get your child a TSA PreCheck membership, assuming they fall in that age range.
Do children & babies need Global Entry?
Unlike with TSA PreCheck, children need their own membership in order to enter the US through Global Entry — parents having a membership isn’t sufficient. This applies regardless of a child’s age, so even a newborn would need their own Global Entry membership.
Those under the age of 18 need the consent of their parent or legal guardian in order to participate in the program. Furthermore, the parent or legal guardian needs to attend the in-person interview (however, only one parent needs to attend, unlike at an appointment to issue a passport, which requires both parents). However, note that the parent or legal guardian doesn’t need to be a Global Entry member to enroll a child (though realistically most parents probably will be).
If you’re a Global Entry member, there’s a huge incentive to enroll your child in the program ASAP as well, since Global Entry is kind of useless if two parents are members, but a child isn’t, since it’s not like you’re going to send the child through the border alone.
Do children & babies need NEXUS?
In the interest of being thorough, the rules for children are the same for NEXUS as they are for Global Entry. That’s to say that children, regardless of age, need their own NEXUS membership in order to use NEXUS, even if traveling with a parent who is a member.
One major benefit of NEXUS is that there are no enrollment fees for applicants under the age of 18, so this is something you can apply for at no cost for your kids.
Why do children & babies need their own Global Entry or NEXUS?
The policy is the policy, and there’s nothing we can do it. I’m just curious, though, does anyone know the logic of why children (regardless of age) can’t use Global Entry or NEXUS with their parents?
- Ultimately it’s up to parents to declare on behalf of children anything they’re bringing into the country
- It doesn’t seem like an infant would really need a background check, and I feel like our two-month-old probably won’t be especially chatty during the Global Entry interview 😉
- If I’m not mistaken, they don’t actually take fingerprints for infants below a certain age, which is typically one of the major reasons for the interview
- If the parents are Global Entry members, they’ve already gone through the Global Entry interview process, and have been vetted
Is this just a poorly thought out technicality, or is there some logic I’m missing? I can appreciate maybe wanting a kid to have their own Global Entry when they’re older, but an infant? I just don’t follow the logic.
When it comes to the major Trusted Traveler Programs, policies differ as to whether kids need their own membership. Kids 12 or under don’t need their own TSA PreCheck membership if they’re traveling with an adult who has a membership. Meanwhile kids, regardless of age, need their own Global Entry or NEXUS membership, in order to use those lanes when entering the country.
To parents, what has your experience been when traveling with children and using TSA PreCheck, Global Entry, or NEXUS?